The demolition of stadium-sheds and concrete extension of Indira Priyadarshini College, owned by Congress MLA Arif Masood, during an anti-encroachment drive in Khanugaon area on Thursday, has once again brought to fore the illegal constructions on the catchment area of Upper Lake.
In 2016, Madhya Pradesh High Court, hearing the petitions of the families living in Khanugaon, had stayed the eviction notices of Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). BMC had served eviction notices on the residents citing the structures were in violation of Bhopal master plan 2005 and within 50 meters of the full-tank level (FTL) of the Upper Lake. No construction is permitted on the catchment area of the lake.
Sharmila Tagore and five others had challenged the BMC eviction notices in High Court stating that constructions were decades old and MP Municipal Corporation Act 1956 is not applicable retrospectively. The Pataudi family had staked claim on 500 acre land of Khanugaon and 250 acre land around the Upper Lake.
Even the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in July 2014, had directed the state government to remove all encroachments within 50 metre perimeter of the Upper Lake. It had directed the government to ensure that no further construction, alteration or addition in the existing constructions between 50 to 300 metre perimeter of the lake.
The bench, hearing the petitions, had questioned why BMC did not clear the encroachments within 50 metre perimeter of the lake till the final demarcation line of the catchment was decided in accordance with the recommendations of the Master Plan on Upper lake-whether it should 100 metre, 200 metre of 500 metre.
Advocate Rajesh Pancholi said, “ I had appeared on behalf of Sharmila Tagore and 39 others who had approached against BMC eviction notices. High Court granted stay against BMC notices for eviction within limit of 50 meter FTL level. There are many factors and the BMC Act is of 1956 and it is not retrospectively.”
Khanugaon, currently having a population of around 25,000, was developed on the catchment area of the Upper Lake during the Nawab era. Bhopal Nawab had rehabilitated people in Khanugaon, while lying adjacent to Koh-e-Fiza. Many VIPs and officers after retirement have their bungalows in the area.